Monday, January 28, 2008

Survey: 'Straight Staph' Epidemic Killing U.S. Heterosexuals

All of the recent stories on gays and staph infections, and the deadliness of such infections, got me thinking about what may have appeared in the mainstream press lately on people dying of staph. Before Googling the terms MRSA, staph, death, and dead, I expected to find lots of stories with about this subject with references to gays dying of the infection.
What I found was an overwhelming number of articles about heterosexuals contracting staph infections and dying. So far, Googling has yet to produce one article reporting on a gay man killed by MRSA.
This unscientific survey, if we wanted to use this collection of articles to make rhetorical points, could easily be packaged and pitched to the mainstream media as proof that MRSA is a heterosexually transmitted disease, spreading and killing in the general population and that just as reporters covered the UCSF staph study and press release from a "gays = disease" angle, fair journalism now demands stories examining straight peoples' sexual habits and infections.
Of course, we won't see such stories, and, indeed, my survey didn't locate one article mentioning the sexual orientation of any of the dead. The question of heterosexual transmission of staph wasn't raised, but I'm certain, had any of the fatalities been gay, his sexual orientation would be the central angle.
I regret each of these deaths and extend deep sympathies to the families and friends of the dead, and I've grappled with the ethics of using these stories and deaths to make some very necessary political and public health points.
Thanks to a sex-sensational UCSF press release stigmatizing gay men and the resultant global media hysteria, the matter of who contracts MRSA and other staph infections that kill, and how the infection is acquired, created the politicization of a very dangerous health problem for America.
I'm simply trying to point out the double-standards and ethics of UCSF and the media, and hopefully show how the pathologizing of gay male sexuality is a serious matter for not just the gay community, but all of America.

Excerpts from recent news articles:

May 19, 2006

FORT WORTH, Texas - Kimberly Kay Jackson loved getting pedicures each month, especially with bright pink nail polish, although as a paraplegic she couldn’t feel the massages and bubbling water on her feet.

But after her heel was cut with a pumice stone during a July pedicure, she developed an oozing wound that wouldn’t heal despite repeated rounds of antibiotics, relatives said. The 46-year-old died in February of a heart attack triggered by a staph infection, said the family’s attorney, Steven C. Laird.

May 10, 2007

A 15-year-old Salt Lake City boy may have died from a severe staph infection while enrolled in a youth wilderness program near Montrose in southwest Colorado.

Colorado authorities continue to investigate the May 2 death of Caleb Jensen in a rugged, mountainous area while at an Alternative Youth Adventures camp. Autopsy results may not be available for another week or more, said Scott Wagner, chief investigator for the Montrose County District Attorney's Office.

June 22, 2007

BEAVERTON, Ore. - Officials confirmed Friday that a staph infection has played a role in a baby's death at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.

The news comes after hospital officials found staph bacteria in the neonatal intensive care unit earlier this month and began treating babies there. [...]

Some babies were bathed with an anti-bacterial soap. Others got antibiotics applied nasally.

One of those became sick and died within the past week and a half.

October 16, 2007
BEDFORD, Virginia (AP) -- A high school student who was hospitalized for more than a week with an antibiotic-resistant staph infection has died, and officials shut down 21 schools for cleaning to keep the illness from spreading.
Ashton Bonds, 17, a senior at Staunton River High School, died Monday after he was found to have Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, his mother said.
October 26, 2007

Omar Rivera, a seventh-grader at Intermediate School 211, died October 14 from the infection, according to the New York City school superintendent, but investigators were unable to confirm where he contracted the infection.

MRSA is short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and is responsible for more deaths in the United States each year than AIDS, according to new data.

November 2
, 2007

PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. - A student at Port Townsend High School in Washington was diagnosed with MRSA, school officials said. Just hours later, the King County Medical Examiner cited MRSA as the cause of death of a man at a Seattle hospital.

John F. Jones, 46, of Federal Way died from MRSA at Harborview Medical Center on Wednesday, according to the Medical Examiner's Office.

November 15, 2007

AMARILLLO - A 13-year-old Borger boy died last week from a drug-resistant staph infection. But, health officials say it's impossible to determine how rare deaths of this kind are because reporting efforts are voluntary. [...]

Mason Chandler Frost of Borger died Friday in an Amarillo hospital.

November 16, 2007

Test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that well-known Maori entertainer Rhonda Bryers died of the drug-resistant "superbug" that has been attracting national attention.

Bryers, 55, died Sept. 28 at her 'Aiea Heights home after falling ill from an infection caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, said Honolulu Medical Examiner Dr. Kanthi De Alwis.

November 30, 2007

A 15-year-old Plano student died from a regular staph infection and not from an antibiotic-resistant strain, a Collin County health official Friday.

Chad Jeter, who died Thursday, probably contracted the regular staph infection sometime after he injured his leg in a skateboard accident on Thanksgiving, said Janet Glowicz, the county's epidemiologist.

A bacterial culture Thursday ruled out MRSA, a staph strain known to be spreading through schools and other gathering place throughout the nation, she said. [...]

In January, a 14-year-old Richardson boy died of pneumonia caused by MRSA.

Dec 11,2007
(Rockville, MD) -- The death of a Montgomery County, Maryland special education teacher from a drug-resistant staph infection may be the first such fatality in Maryland outside of a hospital.

Parents of kids attending Hoover Middle School in Rockville said they were shocked to learn of the death of 48-year-old Merry King, who had been in a coma for six days.

January 6, 2008

AUSTIN, TX — An abrasion caused by artificial turf is being blamed for the death of a high school football player here in December, according to a report by Bloomburg News on Dec. 21.
Sixteen-year-old Boone Baker, a wide receiver on the Austin High School team died from an infection of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which he contracted from the abrasion on the field, said his doctor, according to the Bloomburg article.

January 9, 2008

It's the kind of worst-case scenario that worries health-care professionals: A Perry County teen dies of an antibiotic-resistant staph infection.

Tyler Bundock, 14, died Dec. 20 at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, where he was being treated for a pneumonia-related infection that crippled his lungs' ability to process oxygen.

January 16, 2008

A 32-year-old Erie County Office of Children and Youth caseworker died Thursday at Millcreek Community Hospital from complications of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

Millcreek Community officials confirmed the cause of Cheri Lyons' death Tuesday.

January 26, 2008

ENCINITAS – Last Christmas, Brian Carbaugh's brother visited the UCSD Burn Center to drop off toys for children being treated there.
It was a tradition that Brian, 13, started years ago, after he had severely burned his feet in a fire pit as a toddler. The Encinitas boy had been treated at the center, enduring unimaginable pain with a cheerful face and unyielding bravery, nurse Maury Scott said.

Brian couldn't make his annual Christmas delivery because he was back in the hospital – the victim of a vicious bacterial infection that on Jan. 19 took his life.

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